Heading to Malta? We share everything you need to know in these Malta travel tips, so you can plan the perfect trip to this dreamy destination.
Malta is a gorgeous Mediterranean island that offers tranquil peace along with charming cities, rocky cliffs, and a scattering of pretty beaches. It is no wonder that so many tourists are flocking to this Mediterranean holiday destination; in fact, tourist numbers have doubled in the past decade.
Although stunning, there are a few things you need to know before planning a trip to Malta.
Why Visit Malta?
Malta offers something for everyone. Firstly, the Maltese are known for their friendless and hospitality; they people are kind-hearted and will make your stay in the country welcoming and homely. Additionally, English is Malta’s official second language, meaning most people speak the language so you won’t have to worry too much about communication or miscommunications.
The country has a fascinating history to learn about and explore as well as plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy; scuba diving in the clear blue waters surrounding the islands is a must.
Malta is home to plenty of beaches and sees over 300 days of sunshine. There are plenty of things to see and do, plus this country is cheaper than other European destinations, so it is perfect for budget travelers too.
When to visit Malta
Visit Malta between October to early June. The shoulder months of June and October are perfect because you will have warm weather and fewer crowds but we love visiting Malta in April as you can enjoy the Spring weather and Easter festivities.
Plus, the off season brings cheaper hotel rooms and pleasant weather. But don’t worry, you can still enjoy the beach and go for a swim in the sea during the Spring and Autumn months.
However, the island is incredibly popular during the summer months so unless you are looking for crowds and traffic, avoid these times if possible. It is also incredibly hot during the summer too, so you want to dash into shops for a bit of cool air conditioning.
What to pack for Malta
Of course, you will want to bring comfortable shoes so that you can get around the island and visit the sights. But also, remember to pack flip-flops; there are many beaches you will want to take advantage of and no one wants sandy trainers.
We love these quick dry towels, perfect for drying off in a rush before heading to lunch and staying sand free. Make sure to bring sunscreen to help protect your skin, even on overcast days.
If you are visiting in the winter, bring layers and waterproof clothes; it can be rainy at times from December to January. Layers are ideal for Spring and Autumn because it can be chilly in the evenings.
Malta is a gorgeous place to hike but make sure to pack a water bottle to keep hydrated; the island can be crazy hot during the summertime.
If you plan on renting a car, it is a good idea to bring a portable battery for your phone. Using the GPS on your phone can drain those batteries quickly and no one wants to be lost in the middle of the island with a dead phone.
Pest repellers are always a great thing to carry too. During the summer, Malta has many mosquitoes and some hotels can see the odd cockroach or three. We always use mosquito bracelets and even bring extra insect spray on our trips.
Getting to Malta
Air Malta is the country’s national airline, which offers the most flights to the country. Prices are competitive so compare these with RyanAir and Easyjet before you book. We recommend this airline though, as you get a better service and flights are on time. You can get a direct flight to Malta from most destinations in Europe or make a connection via London, Paris, Munich, Frankfurt, or Amsterdam.
From the airport, you can either pick up your rental car or take a taxi. There is a taxi stand at the airport with flat rates available for some cities. For example, a taxi from Malta airport to Valletta City is €15. You can also download the eCABS app which works in a similar way to Uber.
Alternatively, you can use the Malta Transfer option; a hotel shuttle service between the airport and your hotel. You can reserve your space before arriving so there is no need to worry about getting to and from the airport.
Getting around Malta
The best way to get around Malta is to drive. You can rent a car but make sure to drive with patience. With more and more cars on the island, main roads can be busy and reckless driving is a problem. Drive carefully and avoid the main roads in the morning or afternoon rush hours. Even on the country roads, you will come across potholes and narrow roads, so drive carefully at all times.
If you are renting a car, also choose to rent a small car when possible. Roads in the cities are narrow and parking is limited so the smaller the car, the better.
If you aren’t able to drive around Malta, find a hotel in the cities and stick to walking.
Taxis are also easy to get. There are stands around the island but we would recommend having a taxi service number on hand or asking your hotel/restaurant to call one as you leave.
Buses are cheap; you can get a 2-hour ticket for just €1.50 in the winter or €2 in the summer. Unfortunately, although there are buses, they are often delayed and overcrowded during the summer months. You can also choose the ExplorePlus travel card for €39, including 7 days of unlimited public transport and 2 trips on the Valletta ferry. It also includes a full-day hop-on hop-off bus tour for those wanting to see all the sights. If you only want bus rides, you can get the Explore card for €21 per person for 7 days.
There is also a ferry available from Sliema to Valletta and from Valletta to the Three Cities. Taking this route instead of the bus is a great alternative, especially in the hot months when you want some cool sea breeze and no crowds. The ferries leave every half an hour and you can buy a round trip ticket to save some money.
How much does a trip to Malta cost?
A holiday in Malta can be done on a budget but luxury options are available too. The typically prices are listed below but you will need at least €45 a day if you are staying in a hostel dorm and cooking your own food. Looking for a private room in a budget hotel and a few meals out but sticking to the buses, plan to spend around €100 – €140 a day whilst those renting a car and staying in a nice hotel or airbnb can spend at least €200 per day.
Budget: Hostel rooms start at €25 outside the capital; this post of the best hostels in Malta is super helpful for those looking for cheap accommodation.
Midrange: Midrange rooms will cost you at least €70 – €100 depending on location. You can get some good deals in Sliema and St Julian’s.
Luxury: Gorgeous 4 and 5 star hotels (like the be.Hotel or the 1926 Hotel & Spa) start at €120 but you can also rent a place on Airbnb. Entire guesthouses (even with a pool) can be rented for €200+ a night, perfect for group travellers or families looking to splurge.
Transport: As we mentioned before, a 2-hour bus ticket is €1.50 in the winter and €2 in the summer. Taxis start at €4 or €8.25 in Valletta whilst renting a car for a week will cost around €175.
Average cost of food:
Local bakeries and cafes offer food for around €4 whilst beer starts at around €2.50 and wines start at €4. A sit-down meal for two will cost around €50. If you are eating out once a day and sticking to snacks and cafes the rest of the day, you can expect to pay around €25 per person, per day.
How to save money in Malta
- Pick up an explore Card – Public transport is the cheapest way to get around Malta and picking up an explore card allows you to travel unlimited for 7 days across all of Malta.
- Visit off-season – Head to Malta from October to March, when the temperature is around 16°C but prices are much cheaper than any other time in the year.
- Use the Pastizzerias – Malta is full of grab-and-go eateries known as pastizzerias, perfect for any time of the day. They offer street food items for around €2.
- Maltese Kazins – Maltese bars (known as Kazins), can be found off the beaten path. These bars often give plates of complementary food when you order drinks.
- Rent an Airbnb – Renting an Airbnb can be a more affordable option for couples or groups travels, especially if you are looking to stay in the cities.
Where to stay in Malta
- Stay in a Maltese Village – For an authentic travel experience stay in a. Guest house in one of the non-touristy villages in Malta. The towns of Zabbar, Marsaxlokk, and Rabat have some picture-perfect options for those looking for a unique place to stay in Malta.
- Valletta – Malta’s capital city offers a concentration of museums, attractions, and restaurants. If you do not want to travel too much, then this is the place to be. It is full of history, so you will never be bored here and there are many restaurants to choose from. However, there are no beaches here, so you will have to drive out of the city for a swim in the sea. However, there are more luxurious hotels and resorts here as well as great Airbnb options.
- Mellieha – this Northern destination is close to Malta’s largest sandy beach; Mellieha Bay. The area is busy in the summer but the village itself is never too busy because most visitors stay as near to the beach as possible. If you are looking for a bit of local life and beach, then stay in the village but make sure to rent a car to be able to get out and see more of the island. There are lots of hills in this area so it isn’t great for those with mobility issues.
- Sliema and St. Julian’s – These are the main tourist towns of Malta, so if you want an easy holiday, this is a great place to locate yourself. There are plenty of restaurants and markets here but expect to pay more here than in other towns in Malta. There are plenty of pubs and bars here too as well as cheap accommodation, so this is a great option for groups of friends and/or anyone traveling on a budget. Families should avoid the Paceville area in St. Julian’s – it is noisy and hectic.
- St. Paul’s Bay – Even though this is one of the largest towns on the island, it is still cheaper than Sliema and St. Julian’s and is a great tourist base. You can travel to nearby sites via car fairly easily from here and there are plenty of restaurants, shops and accommodation options to choose from. This area is ideal for families and couples.
- Gozo – It may be a third of the size of Malta but there is plenty of things to see and do in Gozo. You can see everything in one day but spend a night here to see the sights at your own pace and walk along the rugged coastline. If you are looking for a quiet and relaxing visit, then Gozo is a great option for you. Plus, no matter what budget you have, there are plenty of accommodation options here with gorgeous boutique hotels in Gozo to choose from. However, note that there are very few nightlight options for young travelers but there are plenty of restaurants.
- The Three Cities – Sat along the Grand Harbour, and make sure to at least visit the historic, charming, and lesser visited cities of Birgu, Isla, and Bormla; also known as the Three Cities. Birgu is quiet and peaceful, offering an insight into daily life in Malta whilst also being home to the Inquisitor’s Palace.
Staying safe in Malta
Malta is a safe European country with a very low crime rate. However, as with most areas in the world, be careful in busy tourist areas and keep your possessions close to you.
When travelling along the coastal regions (especially when hiking), be careful of loose rocks and do not cliff jump. Make sure to only swim in the designated swimming areas by the beaches.
Of course, wear sunscreen and pack a water bottle to stay hydrated during your trip.
- There are two large hospital sin Malta; one in Malta and one in Gozo; the emergency number is 112.
- The currency in Malta is Euros. We advise bringing Europes with you or exchanging money at the local banks in Malta for decent rates. Avoid the bureau de change spots in the tourist areas.
- VISA, Mastercard and American Express are all widely accepted in the hotels and restaurants of Malta.
- Make sure to tip around 10%; this is the standard. There doesn’t tend to be a cover charge in most restaurants.
- You can now drink the tap water in Malta but we suggest getting a filtered water bottle to make sure your water is clean before using.
- Make sure to dress appropriately if you decide to visit one of Malta’s churches; make sure to at least cover your shoulders and avoid the mini-sorts and skirts.
- The official languages are Maltese and English, with around 88% of the population being able to speak English.
- Malta is the largest island of the Maltese archipelago but it is worth visiting the two smaller islands Gozo and Comino as well.
Food in Malta
If you love baked pasta and pork stew (Stuff tap-fenek) then you will love Maltese cuisine. Fenkata is a traditional rabbit dish whilst seafood lovers will not know what to choose; with octopus stew, stuffed squid and baked tuna steaks all being popular options in restaurants.
Make sure to try pastizzi too – this is a flaky pastry usually filled with ricotta cheese or peas and you can even get sweet versions too.
Italian influences of pizza and pasta can be found all over Malta; especially in the cities and larger towns.
Make sure to try the local beer named Cisk or drink the local orange soft drink named Kinnie.
Looking for a local market? On Tuesday and Saturdays, you will find a farmer’s market at Ta Qali but make sure to avoid anything if it seems overpriced.
Where to eat in Malta
Guze Bistro, Valletta – Found inside a 16th century building in the historic centre of Valletta, this restaurant offers elegant dishes of mediterranean cuisine. It is perfect for those looking for a romantic meal in Malta.
Taste of History – Located in the Maritime Museum of Malta in Birgu, this restaurant offers unique dishes inside the museum itself. Fruit and vegetables are grown locally, meat is from the butchers around the corner and traditional methods for cooking are followed.
Caffe Cordina, Valletta – This is a beautiful cafe and one of the most popular choices in the city. Established in Cospicua in 1837 and then moved to Valetta in 1944, this is somewhat of an institute in Malta.
Meridian Wine Estate – The Ta-Qali wine estate, near Mdina, is a unique wine production spot in the country. Based on the site of an airfield used by the RAF in World War II, you can take a tour of the vineyard and cellars before doing a bit of wine tasting.
Medina, Mdina – Housed in an ancient Norman resident, this is a homely restaurant offering regional dishes. Sit outside in the gorgeous courtyard with vine roofs or sit inside the stone walled restaurant by the warm fireplaces during the colder months.
Barracuda, St. Julian’s – Found on the seafront in central St. Julian’s, this restaurant is gorgeous. It has elegant decor and a beautiful outside terrace with stunning views and the soft sea breeze. Unsurprisingly, the menu offers various fish-based dishes as well as a selection of pastas.
Best things to do in Malta
- Go beyond the beaches – Malta is home to some beautiful beaches but make sure you don’t just stick with them. Visit the oldest standing structure in the world; the Mealithic Temples of Malta dates back to the 4th and 3rd millennium BC. The capital of Malta Valletta, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; packed with baroque palaces and churches with ancient artworks and incredible architecture.
- Enjoy the sea – There are plenty of beaches to enjoy but be cautious. The sea is unforgiving around Malta, so make sure to stick to the designated swimming areas and do not get too close to the shore when the sea is rough. Also, do not be tempted to go cliff jumping here, the waves here can be strong and dangerous.
- Visit for the carnival – Every February, Malta throws a celebration carnival that moves around the island; full of dancing, costumes and parades. Gozo is a popular place to visit during this time but book your accommodation ahead of time!
- The Hypogeum – One of Malta’s most popular attractions is this UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is an ancient burial site and temple which was carved over 5000 years ago. Entrance costs €35 but book your tickets in advance, especially in the summer (they can sell out up to 4 weeks in advance).
- Head to the Citadel – A fort but by the British, this attraction is free to enter and worth exploring. Plus, there are lots of quirky shops and cafes down the alleyways.
- The Blue Lagoon – This looks like paradise in the photos but avoid visiting in the summer. Tourists descend on this popular site, making it feel very overcrowded. If you are in Malta outside of the summer, make sure to visit and wear comfortable shoes so you can enjoy a hike here too.
- Try some diving – Surrounded by shipwrecks, Malta is a great place to try some diving. You can get a dive package for around €60 and waters are clear most of the year.
- St. Paul’s Catacombs – Not far from Mdina is the St. Paul’s Catacombs; a series of underground tunnels used by the Romans as cemeteries.
- Visit the Popeye Village – Used as the film set for the 1980 Popeye Musical, this village is now a tourist attraction made up of bright coloured houses and a mini-golf course.
Nightlife in Malta
- Paceville – This area isn’t for everyone but if you are looking for nightclubs, loud music and lots of drunk tourists then this is the place.
- Valletta – The city is perfect for evenings of bar hopping and romantic meals. Strait Street is home to the Trabuxu Wine Bar, offering wine and cheeses from its 400-year-old vaulted cellar whilst San Paolo Naufrago is the perfect Maltese cafe for snacks, wraps and salads.
- Mdina – The fortified city has an interesting past which attractions thousands of visitors each year. The maze of alleyways transforms you into old Europe and it truly it a beautiful place to visit. However, make sure to spend some evenings here to avoid the crowds of tourists and enjoy a romantic date at one of the gorgeous restaurants here. Make sure to book in advance, restaurants fill quickly.
We hope you have an amazing time in Malta! What are you most looking forward to seeing? Let us know in the comments below.